By Velena Jones

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE (CBS13) — As the flames from the Caldor Fire begin to simmer and families return to Grizzly Flats, the cleanup on the routes to get others home is just beginning.

Just last week, Highway 50 was engulfed in fire on both sides of the roadways. Caltrans said because of the path of the fire and the extent of the damage, the flames have caused dangerous driving conditions.

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“Safety of lives…that is critical, we want to make sure it is safe to travel,” explained Caltrans spokesperson Gilber Mohtes-Chan.

On Wednesday, broken barriers, downed trees and logs were spread throughout the 33-mile closure. CBS13 asked Caltrans how long it will take to repair the roads; Mohtes-Chan explained it’s too early in their assessments to determine.

“It’s important that we don’t rush into these things because one life is too precious to have someone either injured or severely injured by an accident,” he explained.

Caltrans crews were working to inspect Highway 50 between Ice House Road and Sawmill Road in Meyers. About 23 miles of Highway 89 between Meyers in El Dorado County are also still blocked off to traffic.

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“We are working diligently now to do the work that we can; and when it is safe to enter some areas, we will move forward with that,” said Mohtes-Chan

There is no timeline on just how long it will take before it’s safe to drive again.

“It’s really too early to say. They are still fighting the fire, so we really can’t say how long,” he said.

A geologist is expected to start assessments Thursday on the stability of the slopes along both highways.

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Caltrans explained their long-term goals could take months after reopening the roadway to complete. Short-term goals include finishing the assessments and working with both Cal Fire and the California Highway Patrol to determine how and when to safely reopen the highways.

Velena Jones